Calgary MLA Karen McPherson joins Alberta Party after leaving NDP

Calgary MLA Karen McPherson joins the Alberta Party after leaving the NDP government, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. Tom Vernon, Global News

A Calgary member of the Alberta legislature who left the NDP caucus earlier this month to sit as an Independent has joined the Alberta Party.

Karen McPherson, who represents the constituency of Calgary-Mackay-Nosehill, made the announcement on Monday morning before the start of the fall sitting.

McPherson said she’ll have the ability to speak with more “force” now than when she was a member of the NDP caucus.

“I just believe that I am better able to bring forward the issues that are concerning my constituents now,” McPherson said. “It’s just a difference of approach.”

McPherson came to government as a business analyst with more than two decades of experience in IT, mostly in the oil and gas industry.

Asked if she felt her talents were being overlooked in the NDP caucus, McPherson said: “I’m really excited about being able to use my skills and abilities now.”

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When pressed for a clearer answer, McPherson said: “That’s the answer that I’m giving.”

After leaving the NDP caucus in early October, McPherson mentioned both health care and Alberta’s sluggish economy, saying they are being “adequately managed” but they “need to be transformed.”

READ MORE: Member of Alberta NDP Karen McPherson leaves caucus to sit as independent

The new Alberta Party MLA said she spoke to her constituents before making the decision and received positive feedback about the political move.

“I had an email from a nice lady named Dawn who’s thrilled beyond belief, and it’s indicative of the kind of feedback that I’ve had. I’m confident I made the right decision for where I am,” McPherson said.

McPherson won a seat in the May 2015 election, defeating Progressive Conservative incumbent Neil Brown. The riding includes the communities of Huntington Hills, Beddington Heights, Sandstone, MacEwan and Evanston.

McPherson said she plans to run in the 2019 election.

READ MORE: Alberta Election 2015: NDP’S Karen McPherson wins Calgary-MacKay-Nose Hill

McPherson joins Alberta Party leader and Calgary-Elbow MLA Greg Clark as the two Alberta Party MLAs.

Clark called McPherson a perfect fit and says they both share a passion to representative their constituents and reject the “increasing polarization in Alberta politics.”

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“As an opposition member, there’s freedom to truly represent your constituents and what they’re asking you to do,” Clark said.

“Both the UCP and the NDP want Alberta to make an either/or choice, choose a strong society or choose a strong economy. The Alberta Party believes we can and must have both.”

Clark said the party is offering Alberta centrist option, where “most Albertans are.”

READ MORE: New UCP leader Jason Kenney will seek legislature seat in Calgary by-election

He also expects the new two-member Alberta Party will receive official party status.

Clark said precedent was set when the NDP were given status when Rachel Notley and Brian Mason were the lone members.

READ MORE: Alberta MLA Derek Fildebrandt steps down from United Conservative Party caucus 

Two other MLAs remain as Independents after leaving the United Conservative caucus.

Former finance critic Derek Fildebrandt, the member for Strathmore-Brooks, resigned in August after questions arose over his expenses. It was also revealed he rented out his taxpayer-subsidized apartment.

Calgary MLA Rick Fraser left in September over what he said was a fractious leadership race that showed the newly merged right-of-centre party would continue down the road of divisive politics.

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— With files from Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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